Gays are law-abiding, better-educated than the norm, economically productive and tend to be less of a drain on the state, says Rod Liddle. They don’t stand a chance in this country
Should we afford Iranian homosexuals political asylum in this country, or send them back to be hanged in their home country? I suppose there is a certain, dwindling, lobby in Great Britain which would argue we could hang them here and then bill Iran for the cost. Surely not many people still cleave to such a view — although we ought to remember that within my lifetime homosexuality was illegal in Great Britain. This point is made frequently by lefties who wish to draw some sort of equivalence between the Muslim world and our own country — see, we persecuted the poofs too. Yes, we did, unforgiveably — but we didn’t actually hang them, or whip them. Or indeed, as they do in Iran and Saudi Arabia, whip them first and then hang them.
Two gay kids were hanged back in 2005 in Mashhad, having first been subjected to the requisite 228 lashes. They were 16 years old at the time of their ‘offence’, but this plea of mitigation cut no ice with the Iranians. The whole business has re-emerged with the case of Mehdi Kazemi, another gay Iranian teenager, whom the British government wishes to send back to Iran. Kazemi’s boyfriend was hanged there a couple of years back and he fears, reasonably enough, that the same fate awaits him. In the 29 years since Iran experienced its joyful and uplifting Islamic revolution and the overthrow of the Shah, an estimated 4,000 homosexuals have been put to death, inshallah.
The case of Mehdi Kazemi has been reported with a degree of sympathy by the liberal British media which, by and large, doesn’t like seeing people hanged. The BBC found itself in a bit of a bind because, while it wholly approves of sodomy, it approves of Islam too. Both are on its Category One list of stuff which deserves to be treated nicely in news reports. And so we were told that while Iran was a ‘conservative’ society which did indeed exhibit the occasional bout of homophobia, it wasn’t necessarily the case that Kazemi would be strung up as soon as he got back. If he pretended not to be gay, he’d probably be OK for a while. At other times we have been informed that Islam is a peaceable religion which has nothing at all against homosexuals, it’s just the macho, patriarchal culture which prevails in that part of the world. This little nugget of voluntary self-delusion is true only if you accept that Islam itself is a product of the macho, patriarchal culture in that part of the world. There are 57 member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, of which 41 sign up to state persecution of homosexuals and ten put them to death.
Another adherent to this left-liberal double-think is Peter Tatchell, the boss of the radical gay organisation Outrage, and the chap who has — predictably and laudably — led the campaign against Kazemi’s deportation. Tatchell once called upon Muslims to make common cause with homosexuals because they were both, uh, persecuted minorities. Much as I admire Tatchell, I do not think that a wacky sense of humour ranks among his many qualities, so I assume he was serious about that. It is such a fantastically stupid and deluded notion, but one common to many on the Left.
Tatchell has stood as a Green party candidate in Oxford and is presumably still a party member. The Greens recently threw their lot in with Ken Livingstone, in his bid to become re-elected as Mayor of London. Ken is not himself a homophobe, so far as I know, but he continues to invite to London Muslim clerics who support the murder of homosexuals and defends them for their views. In other words, he promotes fascistic and homophobic Islamic speakers. If Tatchell — who has done perhaps more than any single individual to counter discrimination against gays and Muslims worldwide — were true to his beliefs, he would endorse Boris Johnson’s campaign instead. Boris is a metropolitan libertarian and homosexuality is not an issue for him at all. But Tatchell presumably thinks that Islam’s proscriptions against homosexuality are an unfortunate historic aberration — an example of false consciousness, perhaps — and that ‘underneath’, Muslims think gay people are absolutely fine and tickety-boo. Read Mohammed’s hadiths, Pete.
But, still, the question remains: should we allow Iranian homosexuals asylum? Given the general warp and weft of the government’s current policy towards asylum seekers, the answer is a clear ‘no’. People who seem to the public to have either a historic right to stay in Britain, either because of their own valour on behalf of our country or because of some ghastly malefaction occasioned by the close of our empire are always barred: Gurkhas, Hong Kong Chinese, black Zimbabweans. Algerians, Libyans, Pakistanis and so on who want to kill us all, and even tell the courts they wish to kill us all, are allowed to remain, in case they themselves are bumped off when they return to the hellholes from which they emanated. The government’s policy — and the law of the land — on this sort of thing is, you have to say, beguilingly counter-intuitive. Paedophiles? Yep, in you come. Bombers — welcome. People who fought for us for a pittance, nope.
Based upon this rationale, you might expect the government to say no to someone of blameless countenance whose only crime is to have been born with a genetic disposition at odds with the mediaeval beliefs of his or her home country. And indeed that is exactly what the government is saying. The case against allowing Iranian homosexuals to stay becomes even stronger when you consider that on average, homosexuals are an extremely law-abiding community, better-educated than the norm and tend, in the end, to be more economically productive. Further, they are less of a drain upon the state for dependents because, homosexuality being what it is, they tend not to have many dependents. Given all of these points you would expect the government to be utterly averse. Genuinely persecuted back home and potentially useful members of our society — they don’t stand a chance, do they?
President Ahmadinejad announced last September that there were no homosexuals whatsoever in Iran, so I suppose we shall have to take his word for it. Perhaps we should let Mehdi Kazemi stay here, then, for the simple reason that he does not exist.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated March 29, 2008